A claims farmer whose staff pretended to be from solicitors’ firms to secure confidential information has been fined. UK Claims Organisation Ltd made so-called ‘blagging’ calls to insurance companies to obtain information about policyholders and road traffic accidents.

Staff used various guises, including purporing to be calling from law firms, to obtain the information and sell cases on to real solicitors as personal injury claims.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) reported that Joseph Walker, former manager of the Liverpool-based claims management company, appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to 12 offences of unlawfully obtaining personal data under section 55 of the Data Protection Act. A further 44 similar matters were taken into consideration.

Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner, said: ‘Blagging calls are one of the many disreputable and dishonest tactics we see being used by rogue firms. People’s personal data has real monetary value and this practice shows the lengths some people and organisations will go to.’

Walker, 30, originally from Liverpool but now resident in Australia, was arrested on a warrant during a visit to the UK. He was fined £2,000 and was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,600 and a victim surcharge of £15.

His co-defendants, former UK Claims Organisation Ltd employees Lesley Severs and Kayleigh Billington, were fined in November 2016 for their involvement.

Meanwhile, the ICO has confirmed that homes in the north west have been searched as part of an ongoing investigation into nuisance calls. The calls encourage people to make personal injury claims following accidents and are linked to the theft of data from car repair centres.

The ICO executed two search warrants last week: one in Gatley, Greater Manchester and one in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Computers and phones were seized and will now be subject to forensic examination.

Since December, officers have searched homes in Macclesfield, Droylsden and Heald Green as part of the investigation. A ICO investigation, also related to the illegal acquisition of data from the repair industry, resulted in a search of a property in London in February.